Nine-year-old Tiffany Aching thinks her Granny Aching - a wise shepherd - might have been a witch, but now Granny Aching is dead and it's up to Tiffany to work it all out when strange things begin happening: a fairy-tale monster in the stream, a headless horseman and, strangest of all, the tiny blue men in kilts, the Wee Free Men, who have come looking for the new "hag".
These are the Nac Mac Feegles, the pictsies, who like nothing better than thievin', fightin' and drinkin'. Then Tiffany's young brother goes missing and Tiffany and the Wee Free Men must join forces to save him from the Queen of the Fairies-
One of the common threads I love in Terry's Discworld books is the magic, be it the Witches 'headology' MacGyver-style of magic ("It's all in your head, girl, it can be what it needs to be without being all fancy.") or the highly-stylised rituals of the Wizards ("The rite can be perfomed with an egg and a pint of mouseblood, but it just doesn't seem worth it without the chanting and candles and flashes.")... Pratchett's style of describing the mentality behind each piece of magic gives it astounding depth... I love the way it makes me see a different aspect of the Discworld universe.
The newest set of characters, the Nac Mac Feegle, the Wee Free Men, all blue and speedy and strong and roudy and drunk and crafty and... just stunning critters! With an attitude that just can't be stumped, they aren't bright but they always find a way. From filling buckets of water to helping Tiffany, the only witch to ever grow up on chalk ("You need a hard rock to grow a witch, chalk is just too soft") navigate a cluster of dreamspaces in order to save the world.
Y'see, there's a dent in the world, where another world is trying to break through, a nasty parasitic world that has nothing of it's own except it's ruler and everything else is stolen from other dreamworlds. Usually nightmare worlds. Now the Queen wants to invade the Discworld. The only ones in the right place at the right time are Tiffany, Miss Tick (a witch), and the Nac Mac Feegles... an unlikely band of brave holders of the line.
Overall, this has to be one of my favourite non-Ankh-Morpork stories. With overtones of the Narnia Chronicles, Shakespearean drama, and that intellectual wit that I find so wonderfully provocative, Pratchett has penned another brilliant work. If you have any enjoyment of Terry's Discworld series of tales, you're going to just love this one too... it's a laugh a minute with some brilliant puzzles and trivia behind it all.
Random listing from 'Books'...
To the boy called Red, it seems the most marvellous escape he could wish for: a gift that grants him more freedom than he ever believed possible - the chance to fly, to soar with the gulls, high over the tall brick walls that have imprisoned him for so long.
But this gift comes with a terrible price - and puts him in grave danger.
Is there anyone Red can trust to help him? The curious Captain Bass who has strange powers of ... more...
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"A torn jacket is soon mended; but hard words bruise the heart of a child."
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 - 1882)